Two days after the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt held up a sign at Lambeau Field and announced that he wants to rename a city street “McCarthy’s Way”. This announcement is causing much discussion and debate in and around Green Bay, and I want to set the record straight on a few things.
Some opponents are saying that the city cannot afford the costs of changing a street name. To that, Mayor Schmitt said that the signs would cost $50 and surely they can find the money in their budget to pay for it. What he’s neglecting to acknowledge is the fact that a street has dozens if not more street signs. Plus if his recommendation of changing Ashland Ave to McCarthy’s Way were to happen, the state of Wisconsin would have to change highway signs that direct drivers to Ashland Ave, a cost that would be paid for by all taxpayers in the state. He also didn’t mention what it would cost businesses. It’s not cheap to change letterhead, checks, business cards, signage, vehicle lettering, etc. And of course there are also other businesses and entities that have printed directions from point A to point B that mention Ashland Ave. Suffice it to say that it’s a major deal to change the name of a major street.
But I want to clear up a couple of other issues regarding the history of street name changes in Green Bay. According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, “Alderman Tom De Wane said it has become a local tradition to recognize Super Bowl heroes with street names, including former coach Mike Holmgren, quarterback Brett Favre and defensive end Reggie White.” Brown County Supervisor Patrick Evans said, “People need to realize that this wasn’t a revelation by Mayor Schmitt — it’s what the people of Green Bay do for their Super Bowl champion coaches.”
So let’s clear this up a bit. It seems that both men need to check their facts. It is in fact not a tradition to do this in Green Bay. Their statements are simply false.
There used to be a street named Gross Ave that went through Green Bay and the neighboring Village of Ashwaubenon, one block from Lambeau Field. In June 1997, 5 months after the Packers won their last Super Bowl, the Ashwaubenon village board voted to change the name of Gross Ave to Holmgren Way. But the city of Green Bay chose not to follow suit on their portion of the street. They said no. So now the street is named Holmgren Way in Ashwaubenon near Lambeau Field, and when you travel north across Lombardi Ave and enter the Green Bay city limits, the street name is still Gross Ave. Check your map, it’s plain as day.
Other Lambeau-area streets similarly named, like Brett Favre Pass and Reggie White Way, are also in the Village of Ashwaubenon, not Green Bay. The Green Bay City Council had nothing to do with those. So when officials claim that there is some kind of tradition in the city, they’re just wrong.
Also, for what it’s worth, the city changed Highland Ave to Lombardi Ave in 1968, seven years after Lombardi’s first NFL championship. Mayor Schmitt made the announcement two days after McCarthy’s first championship. What’s the hurry?
Look, I live in De Pere. I really don’t care how Green Bay spends its tax money. And I don’t care if they choose to rename city streets. It just bothers me when I hear officials making statements that aren’t true.
Why don’t they just find some open green space somewhere and name it “McCarthy Park”?